Page Six


Gifts in the Hay

On the long trek to the barn snow crunches under my feet
From somewhere in the trees an old horned owl hoots
The sweet smell of hay greets me as I open the door
The new calf is up and nursing, a worry no more.
As I step back out my breath appears in a cloud of steam
It's a night of beauty, a moment to dream.
Stars twinkle in a clear crisp sky
Prompting me to wonder once again why, why
God chose to have His Holy Son born in a barn, laid in hay
When He with such divine power had the choice of any way
Did He plan that the keepers of lowly cattle and sheep
Be the first believers of the Gift of the babe asleep?
For the angels led the herdsmen on their way
To the precious child cuddled in rags and hay.
I begin to hum "Silent Night" as I follow the pathway
So thankful for all of God's gifts born in the hay.

© 2006, Deanna Dickinson McCall
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

Read more of Deanna Dickinson McCall's poetry here.




He was tired, and worn and worried;
They had come such a very long way.
And his eyes filled with weary frustration
At the close of this troublous day.

He had searched through the town for a lodging,
For somewhere to shelter his spouse;
But the doors of them all closed against him,
Every hostel, and hovel and house.

Then he came at last to a stable
And carried his Mary within.
So the Christ Child was born in a manger,
Since there had been no room at the inn.

And this Babe was the Lord of the lowly,
The gentle, the meek and the mild;
But Joseph, that moment, thought only
That this little mite was his child.

And he smiled at the Infant before him,
Lying sweetly asleep on the hay,
While the star in the east had already
Marked the spot for the world, with its ray.

While the shepherds came down from the hillsides,
And the Magi drew near through the night,
Gentle Joseph watched silently over
His son, with a father's delight.

And he dreamed on a bit, of the future,
In his mind saw the boy growing tall,
Then his weariness gathered about him,
And he rested his head on the stall.

Sweet sleep, gentle Joseph, befall you,
With your plans for your child all unfurled;
You will find soon enough that this Infant
Belongs for all time to the world.

© 1959, LaVonne Houlton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more poetry by LaVonne Houlton here.

The Rest of the Story

When Christ was born in Bethlehem
Some sheepherder's saw the light,
An' heard the songs that filled the air
From an angel choir in the night.

We know this from the holy gospels
Which record the blessed event—
(Reporters all missed the cowboys,
Jest'a peepin' thru the fence.)

Some'a them wuz peeled up a bit,
From their wrecks on the way to town;
'Cuz a bronc that's seen an angel choir
Could put ol' Casey on the ground!

The trip wuz begun in search of fun
When one'a the puncher's spoke,
"There's a crowd in town for the taxin', boys—
Let's saddle up, an' take a lope."

"There'll be strangers there from all around,
An' prob'ly some purty girls,
A n' maybe, even, a dance somewhere
Where we can take 'em for a whirl."

It sounded good to the lonely hands,
Who spent so much time on the range—
Cookie wuz the only one who'd been to town,
An' everyone was needin' a change.

So they busied the washtub an' razor strap
An' fought a lot over the glass—
Broke out their best duds an' shined their boots,
Then figgered their looks'd pass.

They saddled their ponies an' hit the trail
Never dreamin' what a wild ol' night
They'd have before reachin' that Bethlehem place—
I'm tellin' ya, it wuz a sight!

First thing they noticed wuz a big ol' star
In a place where it never had been.
They begun to hear music—couldn't tell from where,
Before they'd reached Job's shearin' pens.

Then, all of a sudden, the whole sky wuz lit
By a light like they'd never saw!
Ever' cayuse stampeded a dif'rent direction,
Over hills, an' down rocky draws.

Each hand wuz so busy getting' back in control
He lost plumb track of the others—
They wish't they'd stayed in their cozy bunks,
But t'was too late now for "druthers."

Quite a bit later an' further down the trail
They drifted back together,
Congratulatin' each other in heartiest terms
For the kind of a storm they'd weathered.

"Them angels got a strange sens'a humor," sez Slim.
"One kept sayin', 'Don't be afraid!'"
"I'd a'liked to seen him stay on top of ol' Blue,
Without turnin' pale jest a shade!"

"Aw, give 'em a break.  They wuz sorry," sez Clem,
"to have caused us such a storm."
"Why, one caught my bronc an' led him back to me—
Kep' him from trompin' all Samuel's corn."

Each told his tale as they rode along,
With much razzin', an' some braggin',
An' before they knew it they'd covered the miles
An' into Bethlehem town wuz draggin.

"This ol' colt's had all the ridin' he wants,"
The foreman soon did say.
"What say we hunt a liv'ry barn,
An give the brutes some hay?"

That suited one an' all jest fine,
An' soon they'd found a place—
But as Slim led his pony into the barn
He spied a lady's face.

"Beg pardon, ma'am," he blurted out,
"I thought this wuz the barn!"
She only smiled and pointed him to the hay,
Saying softly, "You'll do no harm."

"The city's so crowded, since Augustus' decree,
We could find no room in an inn.
But they gave us lodging for the night in here—
The baby's come since then."

"This ain't no place for a baby!" Slim sputtered,
"Why, lookit Him in that manger."
Still the Mother just smiled and calmly said,
"I'm sure He's in no danger."

And thus it was that all the hands,
Who cowboyed for ol' Saul Morey
Met the Savior on that night of nights—
An' now you know "the rest of the story."

© Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns, photo by Jeri Dobrowski


Read more of Rhonda Sedgwick Stearn's poetry here.


The Gate Cut

Mr. Avery said this morning we could all have Christmas off,
  In fact, knock off at noon on Christmas Eve.
That tickled all the boys with families here in Silver City,
  but there's no time for me to drive to Tennessee.
My family has gotten used to me not being 'round the tree
  and I've not been to church in twenty years,
'Cept for Billy Meecham's wedding and to bury Grandpa Tom,
  just the memory of it still brings me to tears.

So I feel a little distant from the whole religious thing
  As I put my saddle on this fleabit gray,
And if some one ask, "what's this Christmas all about?"
  I'm not sure I'd know exactly what to say.
So I decided to do some thinking while puttin' out some salt,
  'bout how the Christ Child's birthday should fit in with me,
And what I should be doin' when Christmas finally comes,
  and I'm a long way from my family's Christmas tree.

It seems the celebration should be about the Man himself,
  and the turkey and the tree are just for trim.
Cause what matters is the feeling a believer's got in his heart
  That wouldn't be there if it weren't for him.
So maybe if I get my mind right, I can still have me some Christmas
 Just by thinkin' on the things that matter most.
"bout how he was born and lived and died, and everything he said,
  About the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

If I close my eyes I can almost see my family,
  as they bow their heads to say the Christmas prayer.
And I'll bet the first out of Mama's mouth is how she's wishin'
  That her saddle tramp son could just be there.
Tonight I'll pull that Bible out she gave me, when I went off to the Army,
  And in the campfire light I'll try to read His Word,
And hope this worthless cowboy has a chance to make the Gate cut,
  When old Gabriel comes to gather in the herd.

© 2002, Michael Henley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more of Michael Henley's poetry here.


Visit our Christmas Art Spur project, an illustration by Dee Strickland Johnson (Buckshot Dot), "A Cowboy's Christmas Eve."



See a complete list of all the holiday poems from 2000-2007 here.

See the links here for holiday news and more.




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